There are times in our lives when we do things or say things that cause major damage to our spiritual growth. This is mainly on an individual level. On a social or political level, there have been events in Islam, which not only caused major damage to the ethos operating in the community of Islam but caused damage of such a nature that it split the community into smaller parts. One such event was the killing of Sayyiduna Husayn (r.a.) at Karbala.

We must understand that although the message of Islam is a sacred message and the one who brought the message is the most sacred personality of all time, it does not mean that after his (ﷺ) demise major corruption could not enter his (ﷺ) community. Despite the piety of the Companions (r.a.) and later generations, corruption was still able to hold sway amongst them. The killing of Sayyiduna Husayn (r.a.) is a classic example of how corruption, as part of the struggle for power, damaged in a major form, the stability and the sacredness of this community. We must stop pretending that this was not so. We must stop pretending that the nature of the sacredness of the Message was so powerful that it could preserve itself under all circumstances. It did not happen that way. It was also not part of our Lord’s Decree. He had decreed otherwise.

Sayyiduna Husayn (r.a.) was the grandson of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). He had been assured of support to overthrow Yazid, the son of Sayyiduna Mu’awiyah (r.a.), to establish a righteous Caliphate. The support did not come. He was cornered at Karbala with his family and most of them were killed. The Syrian army, which did this, was part of the Muslim community. They were Muslims, as we say, that shot the arrows and threw the spears that cut the little family to pieces. They were Muslims who wielded their swords against the very close descendants of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) on the day of Ashura.

The hatred of Sayyiduna Husayn (r.a.) was so intense that his corpse was not even treated with respect. He was decapitated. The soldiers used their horses to trample his body into the soil of Karbala to such an extent that when they were done it was difficult to differentiate between his flesh and his bones and the soil in which his body was trampled. This display of almost unequalled barbarism against a grandchild of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) happened on the 10th of Muharram. Many say that the fact that it happened on that day was just an accident of history. They who say this have no understanding of Divine Decree and the implementation of Divine Will. They try to find excuses for barbarism. The head of Sayyiduna Husayn (r.a.) was put at the end of a sword and taken to Yazid. I do not know what his reaction was but the Syrian army was acting under his instructions.

I do not know whether there is any event in the history of our religion that was so low. I think it was the lowest point in the history of our community. The flesh of Sayyiduna Husayn (r.a.) was inherited through blood from the flesh of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). When they trampled on the body of Sayyiduna Husayn (r.a.), it was as if they were trampling on the body of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). They may excuse it in whatever way they wish, but I do not know whether there was any time in the Hereafter, when our Prophet (ﷺ) shed more tears for his (ﷺ) grandson, than on the 10th of Muharram when such brutality was used against him. This event, which I doubt, has anything similar in Christianity and Judaism, was also an event that split the Muslim nation. Over the centuries, that split has become wider and wider. We must be able to face the truth of those events with honesty. The Muslims had disgraced themselves.

My view today is that this disgrace started when the swords were thrust into the body of Sayyiduna Uthman (r.a.). These were swords held in the hands of Muslims. Sayyiduna Uthman (r.a.) to whom Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) gave two of his daughters, Rukeya and Umm Kulthum, in marriage, was killed in such a way that his blood spread over the Qur’an he was reading at the time. Many years ago, I saw that Qur’an in Madinah. That Qur’an witnessed the start of Muslim disgrace. Then Sayyiduna Ali (r.a.) was killed. The disgrace continued. Then Sayyiduna Hassan (r.a.) was poisoned and Sayyiduna Husayn (r.a.) was killed at Karbala. The disgrace continued. Perhaps you will understand now why, to me, the 10th of Muharram is a day of great sadness. Perhaps it should be called the day on which we made our Prophet (ﷺ) weep. I find what happened inexplicable! The least we can do today is to admit that some time in the history of this religion, there was disgrace, and to admit it with honesty. Today we are on the one side of the split. Others are on the other side. Sometimes we condemn each other, perhaps to cover up the disgrace.

I said at the beginning of this letter that we sometimes do things as individuals, which cause major spiritual damage, and that sometimes we do things as a group, which cause major damage. We have to march forward, cognisant of historical events within this nation from the time of the Companions (r.a.) up to today, and which cause us to hang our heads in shame. Of course, we should be ashamed. Those who commit these deeds, and they are still busy committing it in the name of Islam, are people who profess to be part of this nation. Perhaps they are. I do not know. I hope not! If I feel deeply sad by what has been happening within this nation, how must the Prophet (ﷺ) not feel, and how must the righteous people in this community not feel? They cannot tell their feelings to disappear, neither can they suppress them. Every year on the 10th of Muharram, I am reminded of what happened to the grandson of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). I also have grandchildren, and I would not want something so brutal to happen to any one of them.

The other day [2012] I read in the newspaper that a school bus with children in, was bombed in Pakistan, whether deliberately or accidentally. Perhaps it was accidentally because only two children, I think, got hurt. To what level are we sinking that in our political struggles, we are prepared to do things that kill children? It is my strong belief that the events that happened with Sayyiduna Uthman (r.a.) and all the others that I have mentioned, have let loose a series of events within this nation, which are culminating in the killing of unarmed people, senior people, women and children. It all started when the first sword was plunged into the body of Sayyiduna Uthman (r.a.). The process of plunging swords into the bodies of Muslims, has continued up to today. There is much to be proud of in this nation, but there is also much that is causing us to hang our heads in shame. Perhaps at no other time in our history is there the need today to ask our Lord to let these processes of plunging swords into the bodies of Muslims by Muslims, cease. O my Lord, I ask Thee, as a very senior person, and one that Thou has made conscious of historical events, to bring peace to this nation and to let us embrace each other as Muslims, amin.

[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]

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